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God Has Not Forgotten His People

11 1So I ask, "Did God throw out his people?" No! I myself am an Israelite (Jew). I am from the family of Abraham,* from the family group of Benjamin. 2God chose the Israelites to be his people before [they were born]. And God did not throw out those people. Surely you know what the Scripture* says about Elijah.* The Scripture tells about Elijah praying to God against the people of Israel. Elijah said, 3"Lord, the people have killed your prophets* and destroyed your altars.* I am the only prophet still living. And the people are trying to kill me now."* 4But what answer did God give Elijah? God said, "I have kept for myself 7,000 men that still worship me. These 7,000 men have not given worship to Baal.*"*

5It is the same now. There are a few people that God has chosen by his grace (kindness). 6And if God chose his people by grace, then it is not the things they have done that made them God's people. If they could be made God's people by the things they did, then God's gift of grace would not really be a gift. 7So this is what has happened: The people of Israel (the Jews) tried [to be right with God]. But they did not succeed. But the people God chose did [become right with him]. The other people became hard and refused to listen to God. 8Like it is written [in the Scriptures*]: "God caused the people to fall asleep." Isaiah 29:10

"God closed their eyes so that they could not see [the truth], and God closed their ears so that they could not hear [the truth]. This continues until now." Deuteronomy 29:4

9And David says: "Let those people be caught and trapped at their own feasts. Let those people fall and be punished. 10Let their eyes be closed so they cannot see [the truth]. And let them be troubled forever." Psalm 69:22-23

11So I ask: When the Jews fell, did that fall destroy them? No! But their mistake brought salvation to the non-Jews. This happened to make the Jews jealous. 12The Jews' mistake brought rich blessings for the world. And what the Jews lost brought rich blessings for the non-Jewish people. So surely the world will get much richer blessings when enough Jews become the kind of people God wants.

13Now I am speaking to you people that are not Jews. I am an apostle* to the non-Jews. So while I have that work, I will do the best I can. 14I hope I can make my own people (the Jews) jealous. That way, maybe I can help some of them to be saved. 15God turned away from the Jews. When that happened, God became friends with the other people in the world. So when God accepts the Jews, then surely that will bring to people life after death.

16If the first piece of bread is offered to God, then the whole loaf is made holy. If the roots of a tree are holy, then the tree's branches are holy too. 17[It is like] some of the branches from an olive tree have been broken off, and the branch of a wild olive tree has been joined to that first tree. You non-Jews are the same as that wild branch, and you now share the strength and life of the first tree (the Jews).

18So don't boast about those branches that were broken off. You have no reason to boast. Why? You don't give life to the root. The root gives life to you. 19You will say, "Branches were broken off so that I could be joined to their tree." 20That is true. But those branches were broken off because they did not believe. And you continue to be part of the tree only because you believe. Don't be proud, but be afraid. 21If God did not let the natural branches of that tree stay, then he will not let you stay [if you don't believe].

Abraham The most respected ancestor of the Jews. Scripture(s) Holy Writings--the Old Testament. Elijah A prophet who lived about 850 b.c. prophets People who spoke for God. altars An altar is a place where sacrifices are offered. "Lord ... now" Quote from 1 Kings 19:10, 14. Baal The name of a false god. "I have ... Baal" Quote from 1 Kings 19:18. apostle A person Jesus chose to represent him in a special way.

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